Uproar over 250 hectares of land for Gobabis agricultural project

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Residents of Gobabis in the Omaheke Region, have expressed dissatisfaction over the allocation of 250 hectares of town land by the council for an agricultural project aimed at addressing food insecurity.

The residents through their representative Veronica Kuzeeko, compiled a petition with the intention of submitting it to the Gobabis Local Authority Council. The petition was, however, rejected.

The petition is claiming the land was allocated to Omaheke Governor, Pijoo Nganate and the Office of the Mayor without following the right channels and that the allocation process was procedurally flawed.

According to the group, the meeting that approved the land allocation was organised in a manner where three councillors were informed by the Governor that they formed a quorum, leaving three other councillors absent.

“It is for this reason that we call on the Governor and the Mayor to follow the proper procedure as prescribed in the Local Authorities Act, Act 23 of 1992, for the acquisition of farm Nuwehoop,” Kuzeeko said.

She said the disputed land, was last week committed by the Gobabis Municipality for agricultural use to combat food insecurity in the area. A decision came after various non-governmental organisations and stakeholders pledged to assist the malnutrition-stricken region with sustainable food production projects through the Governor’s office.

The project is slated to be implemented in three phases.

Kuzeeko stressed that they found it to be very disturbing that the governor was once heard telling the mayor that “you can even retire there”. Hence, they took it upon themselves to hold their leaders accountable because they feared the land might not be used for the intended purposes.

“This statement is very dangerous because it creates the impression that these two public figures are using their positions for personal gain. In conclusion, we are governed by the legislation of the great Republic of Namibia and should always subject ourselves thereto. No one is above the law,” she said.

The residents also highlighted the importance of receiving a substantive business plan outlining every component of the project in detail. Hence, they are demanding transparency regarding the legal entity overseeing the project, a detailed cost breakdown, startup capital, job opportunities and the number of people from the community who will benefit from the project.

The residents further stated that the application for the project by the Governor falls short in various aspects and should be referred back to the Governor and the mayor’s offices to ensure the project genuinely benefits the community of Gobabis.

When approached for comment, the town’s Mayor Mellba Tjozongoro, requested that questions be sent to her via text message. Later, she responded, stating she was currently in a meeting and would be visiting farms afterwards.

Governor Nganate’s phone went unanswered and he did not reply to a message sent to him at the time of going print.

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